California utilities launch wildfire and safety power shutoff preparedness drive

/ 11:31 PM May 07, 2019

A California wildfire. AP FILE PHOTO

SAN FRANCISCO –California’s three largest energy companies announced a coordinated wildfire safety and awareness campaign to prepare residents for the threat of extreme weather and power outages during times of increased wildfire danger.

The statewide Power of Being Prepared campaign is being led jointly by San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE) and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), at the direction of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). ‘

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The multimedia and multilingual campaign includes radio ads, preparedness resources and a new website,prepareforpowerdown.com. It is a call to action for all Californians to take important steps to get ready before the 2019 wildfire season, such as creating a thorough emergency plan and updating their contact information with their energy company.

According to a recent report released by Governor Gavin Newsom’s Strike Force addressing wildfire issues, “More than 25 million acres of California wildlands are classified as under very high or extreme fire threat. Approximately 25 percent of the state’s population – 11 million people – lives in that high-risk area.”

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“Wildfires are a real and growing threat in California,” said Denise Everhart, Pacific Division Disaster Executive of the American Red Cross. “Now more than ever it is critical that Californians be ready for the unexpected and prepare their emergency kits, download the Red Cross Emergency App, outline a family plan and practice safety drills before the need arises. Education, awareness and preparedness can make a difference in keeping families safe and saving lives.”

Public Safety Power Shutoff

Energy companies turn off power to fire prone areas during extreme weather events as a safety precaution. This is known as a Public Safety Power Shutoff. While Public Safety Power Shutoffs are more likely to occur in high fire-risk areas, all Californians could be impacted by emergency events and need to be prepared with a plan and an emergency kit. The Power of Being Prepared campaign provides customers with specific steps they can take to be ready should there be an extended power outage that lasts multiple days.

What to Expect

The decision and action to turn off power is made by each energy company and is based on a combination of factors. These include high winds (including Red Flag Warnings declared by the National Weather Service), low humidity, dry vegetation and conditions on the ground. Power outages could last multiple days, depending on the severity of weather conditions and other factors, so it is important for everyone to have an emergency plan in place.

Energy companies will aim to send early warning notifications via phone calls, text alerts, emails and other means before turning off power. SDG&E, SCE and PG&E are all working with customers to ensure they have updated contact information on file and are able to reach customers before, during and after a Public Safety Power Shutoff event. Energy companies will also use websites and social media channels to share information and provide regular updates to local news and radio outlets.

 

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Safety Tips

Here are some steps Californians can take to help prepare for extreme weather and Public Safety Power Shutoff events:

  • Update contact informationwith energy companies to sign up for important outage alerts
  • Identify backup charging methodsfor phones and keep hard copies of emergency numbers
  • Plan for any medical needslike medications that need to be refrigerated or devices that require power
  • Plan for the needs of pets and livestock
  • Build or restock emergency kitswith flashlights, fresh batteries, first aid supplies and cash
  • Designate an emergency meeting location
  • Know how to manually open garage doors
  • Ensure any backup generators are ready to safely operate
  • Identify the unique needs of your family and loved ones in the area for your emergency plan
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TAGS: California energy companies, public safety power shutoffs, wildfire preparedness
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